Eagles Wake-Up Call: Myke Tavarres’ Opportunity
Myke Tavarres was at a crossroads, and he didn’t know what direction to go in. He had just completed his first season at Arkansas in 2013, where he was primarily used in scout team and special teams roles, after being a two-time all-conference selection in junior college.
The year before, Tavarres helped lead the College of the Siskiyous in California to the most wins in school history and a division championship, evolving into an SEC prospect and the 63rd-best junior college player in ESPN’s top-100 ranking. Then, after just a season in college football’s best conference, he decided to leave without a destination in mind.
While trying to figure out his future, Tavarres saw a snippet on ESPN that Ricky Williams, his favorite player growing up, was the running backs coach at Incarnate Word. A couple of days later, a close friend and former junior college teammate called Tavarres to recruit him to the school in San Antonio.
Tavarres “took that as a sign,” he said after practice yesterday, and without visiting the FCS program, transferred there. He credits the Southland Conference school with reinvigorating his love for football.
“Coming from the University of Arkansas, it was all about football,” Tavarres told the Eagles’ website. “It was all about, ‘We’re going to be a powerhouse team. We’re going to do what we need to do to win.’ And I got to Incarnate Word, and it was like, ‘Look, we’re here because we love the game. We’re here to have fun.’ That’s why I really loved playing there, because I got the opportunity to find love for the game again.”
After redshirting at Incarnate Word in 2014, Tavarres tallied 110 tackles, 22.5 tackles-for-loss and 8.5 sacks in 2015. However, because of his 6-1 frame, he was projected by many analysts to be an undrafted free agent.
While some teams saw Tavarres as a linebacker, others were interested in him as a pass-rushing specialist or linebacker/safety hybrid. Ultimately, he wasn’t drafted, and Tavarres picked the Eagles because he wanted to play linebacker in the 4-3. It also didn’t hurt that Philadelphia gave him the second-most guaranteed money among all undrafted rookies.
“He’s not that guy [that will be a linebacker/safety hybrid],” Jim Schwartz said during OTAs. “He’s more going through the transition of moving back and being more coverage oriented. You know, I think that’s going to best fit his skill set. He can run, made a lot of plays in college, but he also went from junior college, cup of coffee at Arkansas to Incarnate Word, so he’s got a big jump ahead of him. But he has the skill set to be able to do it. That was another guy like Quentin [Gause] that we thought a lot of after the draft and tried our best to get him. We were lucky enough to get him signed.”
Since the Eagles signed him, Tavarres has bumped up his weight from 225 pounds to 240. With the team’s lack of linebacker depth, and potential trouble ahead for Nigel Bradham after his arrest this week, Tavarres could be appealing to keep around at strong-side linebacker.
But Tavarres, who told Birds 24/7 that he is looking to model his game off of special teams stud Bryan Braman, remains cognizant of his most likely path to a roster spot: “Hard work. Dedication. Special teams.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
The team placed running back Ryan Mathews on the active/NFI list with an ankle injury and signed wide receiver David Watford to bring the roster back to the maximum 90.
“No, no. It’s very much the same.” Connor Barwin on the team’s character standards not being diminished.
“I have to be very clear from where I stand with the players and the coaches for that matter and make sure they understand.” No punishment for Nigel Bradham as more details emerge from his altercation last week in Miami.
“If you can get [to the quarterback] with four, you have a big advantage on defense.” Jim Schwartz on why he prefers his aggressive 4-3 scheme to a tradition two-gap system.
Along with his hair color, rookie cornerback Jalen Mills is standing out due to his play early in training camp.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon would be a good fit for the Eagles, opines Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice.
The Eagles have taken chances on character risk players this offseason
Gordon is player Chip Kelly likely would not have touched with a 10-foot pole. Under Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman, the Eagles showed this offseason that they were willing to take risks on character issue players, when they drafted Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills and Alex McCalister, all of whom had significant red flags.
The Eagles showed interest in deep threats this offseason
Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, it became very clear that the Eagles were targeting speed receivers both in free agency, and the types of wide receivers they brought in for their 30 allotted pre-draft visits. As Gordon’s numbers above show, he has averaged 17.1 yards per catch over his career.
Gordon costs next to nothing
In 2016, Gordon’s salary cap hit is a shade over $817K. In 2017, he’ll be a restricted free agent, and will not make much money. The Eagles have more cash spending against their 2017 cap than any team in the NFL, and it’s not even close.
Additionally, they will be without their first round pick in 2017 and their second round pick in 2018. They’re going to have to find upper-tier talent somewhere, and Gordon could be an extremely low cost player worth the gamble.
The Eagles are testing out a new helmet cam on rookie corner Blake Countess. David Murphy of the Daily News has more.
The latest little step in that process was visible on the helmet of rookie cornerback Blake Countess during Wednesday’s practice session at the NovaCare Complex. The camera is a metal, hot-dog-sized cylinder that is mounted near the logo on the left side of the shell. Countess, a sixth-round pick out of Auburn, wasn’t sure exactly how the thing worked — “At one point it beeped,” he said — but he was certainly aware of its potential benefit.
“Eye progressions,” Countess said. “Just seeing where I’m looking at and being more disciplined with my eyes. Throughout the play, if your eyes are bad, you’re probably going to get beat, especially as a defensive back.”
The Eagles aren’t the first team to test out helmet cams. In 2013, both the Bears and the Patriots outfitted their quarterbacks with the devices. A handful of colleges have also played around with them.
“In fact, we used them in the Kansas City with the quarterbacks,” said Pederson, who spent the last three years as offensive coordinator under Andy Reid with the Chiefs. “We’ve had them on their helmets before. It gives you an opportunity to kind of see from the players’ vantage point where they’re looking, where their eyes are. Are they in the right direction? Are they on the right reads? And defensively are [they] in the right spots? And then you can evaluate and help correct the player.
“I know it’s great with quarterbacks, because you definitely get that perspective on where he’s looking. Obviously you can’t tell who he’s looking at, but you can tell the direction of where he’s looking. You get great feedback with that kind of technology.”
Practice begins at 3:30, for the first time in training camp as a full team, with Frank Reich scheduled to address the media afterward.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.